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Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a)

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Muṣḥaf of Imām ʿAlī (a) (Arabic: مصحف امام علي (ع)) is the first Qur'an collected after the demise of the Prophet (s). Imam 'Ali (a) presented the Mushaf to the Companions, but they did not accept it, so Imam 'Ali (a) hid it, so the Mushaf is not available and apparently the order of its suras is not as the order of the existing Qur'an.

Collection of Qur'an by Imam 'Ali (a)

After the demise of the Prophet (s), Imam 'Ali (a) who was, according to the Prophet (s), the most knowledgeable person about Qur'an, collected Qur'an in his house and after less than 6 months, loaded it on a camel and presented it to the companions of the Prophet (s). This Qur'an is known as Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a).[1]

The narrators who clearly mentioned the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a) or the collection of Qur'an by Imam 'Ali (a) are:

  • 'Abd Allah b. al-'Abbas, has independently remarked about the Mushaf.[2]

Opinion of al-Shahristani

In the exegetic book of al-Shahristani (d. 548/1153) it is mentioned: after the collection of Qur'an, 'Ali (a) and his slave, Qanbar, brought it to the Companions, they were carrying it with difficulty and it is said that it was equal to the load of a camel. Imam 'Ali (a) told them: this is the book of Allah as is revealed to Muhammad (s), I collected it in a volume. They said: 'take away your Mushaf as we do not need it.' Imam 'Ali (a) said: 'by Allah you will never see it again, I had the responsibility to inform you when I collected it.' Then he returned while he was reciting this verse: "O my Lord! Indeed my people consigned this Qur'an to oblivion." (Quran 25:30)[3]

Al-Shahristani then criticizes the response of who rejected the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a):

How they did not want the Qur'an collected by 'Ali (a)? Could Zayd b. Thabit write better? Or was Sa'id b. al-'As more literate and more familiar with the Arabic grammar than 'Ali? They were more close to the Prophet (s) or 'Ali (a) was? They ignored the work of 'Ali (a) and forgot it. But when 'Ali (a) completed the burial of the Prophet (s), made a vow that he will never come out of his house except for the Friday prayer till he collects all of Qur'an. Certainly he was responsible for this duty. He collected Qur'an as it was revealed; the Prophet (s) had instructed him about the verses and suras and their meaning and order.[4]

Opinion of Ibn al-Nadim

Ibn al-Nadim in his book al-Fihrist says: after the demise of the Prophet (s), Imam 'Ali (a) stayed in his home for 3 days and collected Qur'an and this was the first collected Qur'an. This Mushaf was among the progeny of Ja'far; and I saw the Mushaf with the handwriting of 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a), in the possession of Abu Ya'li Hamza al-Hasani, which some of its pages was decayed. The progeny of al-Hasan (a) had inherited it and this is the order of suras in Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a): …[5]

In the existing manuscripts of al-Fihrist the part of the order of suras is totally wiped, the reason for this change is not known.[6]

Seven Parts of Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a)

According to Tarikh al-Ya'qubi[7] the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a) had 7 parts:

Part 1 is named "al-Baqara" with 886 verses and 15 suras: al-Baqara, Yusuf, al-'Ankabut, al-Rum, Luqman, Fussilat , al-Dhariyat, al-Insan , al-Sajda , al-Nazi'at, al-Takwir, al-Infitar, al-Inshiqaq, al-A'la, and al-Bayyina.

Part 2 is named "Al 'Imran" with 886 verses and 16 suras: Al 'Imran, Hud, al-Hajj, al-Hijr, [[al-Ahzab], al-Dukhan, al-Rahman, al-Haqqa, al-Ma'arij, 'Abbasa, al-Shams, al-Qadr, al-Zalzala, al-Humaza, al-Fil, and al-Quraysh.

Part 3 is named "al-Nisa'" with 886 verses and 16 suras: al-Nisa', al-Nahl, al-Mu'minun, YaSin, al-Shawra, al-Waqi'a, al-Mulk, al-Muddaththir, al-Ma'un, Masad, al-Ikhlas, al-'Asr, al-Qari'a, al-Buruj, al-Tin, and al-Naml.

Part 4 is named "al-Ma'ida" with 886 verses and 15 suras: al-Ma'ida, Yunus, Maryam, al-Shu'ara', al-Zukhruf, al-Hujurat, Qaf, al-Qamar, al-Mumtahana, al-Tariq, al-Balad, al-Inshirah, al-'Adiyat, al-Kawthar, and al-Kafirun.

Part 5 is named "al-An'am" with 886 verses and 16 suras: al-An'am, al-Isra', al-Anbiya', al-Furqan, al-Qasas, Ghafir, al-Mujadala, al-Hashr, al-Jumu'a, al-Munafiqun, al-Qalam, Nuh, al-Jinn, al-Mursalat, al-Duha, and al-Takathur.

Part 6 is named "al-A'raf" with 886 verses and 16 suras: al-A'raf, Ibrahim, al-Kahf, al-Nur, Sad, al-Zumar, al-Jathiya, Muhammad, al-Hadid, al-Muzzammil, al-Qiyama, al-Naba', al-Ghashiya, al-Fajr, al-Layl, and al-Nasr.

Part 7 is named "al-Anfal" with 886 verses and 15 suras: al-Anfal, al-Tawba, TaHa, Fatir, al-Saffat, al-Ahqaf, al-Fath, al-Tur, al-Najm, al-Saff, al-Taghabun, al-Talaq, al-Mutaffifin, al-Falaq, and al-Nas.

The above suras are 109 suras and 5 suras are not mentioned.

Mahmud Ramyar, the author of Tarikh-i Qur'an (the History of Qur'an) says: the report of al-Ya'qubi is very odd. all of historians and narrators have said that Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a) was ordered according to the order of revelation and contained the context of revelation (Asbab al-Nuzul) and the explanation of the ambiguous verses; but the narration of al-Ya'qubi is in contrast with all of them.


Most of the reports and narrations indicate that the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a) was ordered according to the order of revelation; but about whether it only contained the text of the Qur'an or it has some extras like the context of revelation, the exegesis of the verses, nasikh and mansukh; there are different reports.[8]

Imam al-Baqir (a) said: "there's no one who can say that 'I have collected Qur'an as Allah revealed it' unless he is lying. No one preserved and collected Qur'an with the order of revelation except 'Ali b. Abi Talib."[9]

As al-Shahristani says in his book, the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a) had exegetic gloss in addition to the text of Qur'an.[10] According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid and some other scholars there was the interpretation of the verses in the Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a).[11] Also nasikh was before mansukh.[12] And it is said that many of the ambiguous verses, including the names of some of the hypocrites, were explained in the marginal notes. These were the reasons that the Mushaf was not accepted; so Imam 'Ali (a), while verifying the Qur'an collected by the command of 'Uthman, hid his Mushaf.[13]

Most of Shi'a sources believe that after Imam 'Ali (s) the Mushaf is inherited by Imams and now it is in the possession of Imam al-Mahdi (a).

See Also


  1. Tabataba'i, Qur'an dar Islam, p.113; al-Sajistani, Kitab al-masahif, p.16; al-Suyuti, al-Itqan, vol.1 p.161
  2. Ayazi, Mushaf Imam 'Ali, p.167
  3. Al-Shahristani, Mafatih al-asrar, vol.1 p.15
  4. Ayazi, Mushaf imam 'Ali, p.172-173
  5. Ibn al-Nadim, al-Fihrist, p.30
  6. Ramyar, Tarikh-i Qur'an, p.368
  7. Ibn Abi Ya'qub, Tarikh al-Ya'qubi, vol.2 p.15-16
  8. Ramyar, Tarikh-i Qur'an, p.370-371
  9. Al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol.88 p.92
  10. Al-Shahristani, Mafatih al-asrar, vol.1 p.15
  11. Al-Mufid, Awa'il al-maqalat, p.94
  12. Al-Zanjani, Tarikh al-Qur'an, p.54
  13. Khurramshahi, Qur'an pazhuhi, p.469


  • Tabataba'i, Muhammad Husayn. Qur'an dar Islam. Tehran: Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, 1376Sh.
  • Sajistani, 'Abd Allah b. Sulayman al-. Kitab al-Masahif. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1405/1985.
  • Suyuti, Jalal al-Din al-. Al-Itqan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1416/1996.
  • Ayazi, Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali. Mushaf Imam 'Ali. Danishnama-yi Qur'an Pazhuhi, vol. 12, under revision of 'Ali Akbar Rashad. Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Athar-i Pazhuhishgah-i Farhang wa Andisha-yi Islami, 1380Sh.
  • Shahristani, Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Karim al-. Mafatih al-asrar wa masabih al-abrar. Tehran: Markaz-i Intisharat-i Nusakh Khatti, 1409/1368.
  • Ibn al-Nadim. Al-Fihrist. ed. Rida Tajaddud.
  • Ramyar, Mahmud. Tarikh-i Qur'an. Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1369Sh.
  • Ibn Abi Ya'qub, Ahamd. Tarikh al-Ya'qubi. trans. Muhammad Ibrahim Ayati. Tehran: 'Ilmi wa Farhangi, 1378Sh.
  • Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir al-. Bihar al-anwar.
  • Mufid al-. Awa'il al-maqalat.
  • Zanjani al-. Tarikh al-Qur'an.
  • Khurramshahi, Baha' al-Din. Qur'an pazhuhi. Tehran: 'Ilmi wa Farhangi, 1389Sh.